On May 21, Ballot Initative 26-151, the Portland measure that would have required the fluoridation of the city's drinking water, was soundly defeated by voters—and former City Commissioner Mike Lindberg turned out to celebrate.
"It's really a reflection of the way that Portlanders treasure our Bull Run water," said Lindberg, the only major political figure the anti-fluoridation campaign had on its side. "Portlanders have a special connection with nature, let's put it that way."
But Lindberg also told WW he was talking to people on both sides of the fluoride fight about finding ways to protect children's dental health without water fluoridation. The options, he said, included launching a soda tax to pay for free dental clinics.
Today, those conversations became formal and public.
Portland City Club announced this morning it's starting a Children's Dental Health Task Force to find another way to protect kids' teeth. Lindberg, along with anti-fluoridation donor Daniel Deutsch and fluoride backer Jesse Beason of NW Health Foundation, will pick a panel of six: three fluoride supporters and three opponents.
Are you a fluoride supporter? Are you a fluoride opponent? The City Club press release notes that you can be on the task force:
PORTLAND Ore. (October 9, 2013)—This spring Portland experienced one of the most contentious special elections in recent memory over water fluoridation. While they disagreed on fluoridation, members from both sides recognized that heightened public awareness of dental health issues provided a rare opportunity to make a difference in Portland.
Today, together with City Club of Portland, some of the key leaders of Portland’s fluoridation debate announced that they are creating a special task force that will bring together both sides of the fluoride debate in the name of children’s dental health. The task force is funded and led by major water fluoridation proponents Northwest Health Foundation and Kaiser Permanente along with Daniel Deutsch, the largest in-state donor for the anti-water-fluoridation campaign.
“What excited us most about the campaign was the enthusiasm on all sides of the issue for a solution to Portland’s dental health problems,” said Nichole Maher, President Northwest Health Foundation. “After the election it was clear there were many areas in which the anti-side was actually an ally. It just made sense to reach out and combine forces.”
The task force will study the most workable solutions for improving dental health outcomes for children in Multnomah County. It will examine proven community-based strategies that have improved dental health in other cities. Following the findings of the report, the task force will develop a set of recommendations.
"I truly appreciate the willingness to come together, and find a common purpose, in spite of our being on opposite sides of the debate,” said Deutsch. “In the end, we are working toward the same goal, a healthier Portland. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be part of this collaboration."
City Club member Carol M. Ford will be facilitating the task force, which will be comprised of three representatives each from the pro- and anti-water-fluoridation sides along with three dental health policy experts. Community members who are interested in serving on the task force should apply online (PDF) by October 16. Learn more about the task force on the City Club website.
Task Force members will be selected by a committee comprised of: Jesse Beason, NW Health Foundation; Daniel Deutsch, Principal of Leftbank Development; Mike Lindberg, Former Portland City Commissioner; Nicole Pexton, City Club Research Board; Byron Palmer, City Club Research Board
Learn more about task force partners at: www.nwhf.org, www.kp.com, and pdxcityclub.org